A Better OS, a Better Keyboard

If you’ve used a competitive OS to Windows Phone 7 that features an on-screen keyboard (notably Android and iOS) you will surely agree with me when I say that the keyboard present on our WP7 devices blows everything else out the water. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it’s close.

Microsoft Research has published an article that provides a fantastic insight into the keyboard and how it has been developed to adapt to users with how the habit of typing isn’t entirely accurate (for some key presses we may place our finger on the top-right of a key almost touching a neigh-borough key). Read on after the break.

Eric Badger, developer lead, went on to say:

That was our starting premise, we wanted to have the best text-input solution in the world. When it comes to digital communication, the task of getting an idea from your head to the keyboard is really important.

The collaborated team used a data collection tool (seen above), which was later turned into a game called Text Text Revolution! (by Dmitry Rudchenko, developer on the team) and provided users a fantastic way to grow accustomed to their Windows Phone devices. The tool/game, since its launch, has collected more than 20 million touch points for training.

The keyboard in WP7 dramatically alters the virtual size of the likely next later by combining statistical models of language patterns and touch points, which makes the target area larger. This change in the size of each “button” isn’t displayed visually (or you’d have the keyboard resizing everywhere) and is completely backend. The software analyses what users are typing, calculates which letter is most likely to be typed next, and enlarges the virtual key area. Thus pressing “T” will result in T. Not Y or R.

For future releases, the blog covered plans for the keyboard to take into account the speed at which a user is typing, which sounds really impressive and is a fantastic step in the right direction to further advance the WP7 OS in user-friendliness. Do you enjoy using the keyboard, and do you prefer it to other OSs?

Source: Microsoft Research

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.